Congressman and former Washington College of Law professor Jamie Raskin discussed truth, trauma and the trials of democracy during a virtual event hosted by American University on Feb. 7.
The event, hosted by WCL professor Angela J. Davis, focused on Raskin’s new book, “Unthinkable,” which addresses both the death of his son Tommy and the impeachment trials following the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
“It never occurred to me that I was writing two different books because the events were so intertwined,” Raskin said.
Raskin described the months following his son’s death leading into the insurrection trials as an “extraordinarily bizarre configuration of traumas.”
The webinar took a deep dive into the processes that took place in the month Raskin took part in the Senate impeachment trial. During the Senate trials, Raskin found himself being reminded of his son, thinking about what decisions he would make in the trial.
“Tommy was one who always insisted on taking the high road,” Raskin said.
Rep. Jamie Raskin represents Maryland’s 8th District in the U.S. Congress. He had taught courses covering topics such as Constitutional Law and the Legislative Process at the WCL for over 25 years.
The webinar looked at how being put into a leadership role for the trials served as a “lifeline” for Raskin, and he discussed the “dark times” he experienced.
As the webinar came to a close, Raskin spoke about the difficulties of talking about loss to others even after experiencing it firsthand.
He went on to discuss how President Joe Biden helped Raskin by listening and checking up on him during his loss, even during the tense political times. Both traumatic events happened within the span of weeks after each other, and he explained how President Joe Biden’s support kept him focused on his work and moving forward.
“He’s like our chief emotional officer, who can really connect with people … He really won my heart that day,” Raskin described his interaction with President Joe Biden after the Democratic caucus on the infrastructure bill.
The webinar went over other key political events, including topics like the Build Back Better infrastructure bill that kept Raskin busy as he grieved.
“I was never good at talking to people about loss and grief, it’s hard you know? But I’ve gotten much better at it – better at doing it,” Raskin said.